Lifestyle Modifications to Improve Your Brain Health

Changes You Can Start Making Today to Support Brain Wellness as You Age

By: Dr. Pat Hopkins and Leslie Frodema, RN of Hopkins Medical Group

The US population is aging. Never before have there been as many older adults as there are today. Advances in medical technology and an aging Baby Boomer generation have led to unprecedented numbers in our 65+ population. Unfortunately, statistics also show that while Americans are living longer, they’re also less healthy, primarily due to poor diet and lifestyle.

The Impact of Aging on the Brain

Aging impacts all parts of our body, including our brain. As we age:

  • The brain shrinks, particularly the frontal cortex, which is responsible for cognitive functions such as memory, emotions, motor function, and problem-solving. 
  • Brain neurons shrink and the number of connections, or synapses, between brain cells are reduced. 
  • Blood flow in the brain decreases.
  • The volume of gray matter in the brain decreases, impacting attention, memory, and thought.

Natural changes in the brain associated with aging, along with other factors — including diet, lifestyle, genetics, head injuries, substance use, environmental toxins, cardiovascular disease, and more — can contribute to a severe decline in mental ability over time, also known as dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common type of dementia, is increasingly prevalent amongst older adults. 

  • One in nine Americans over 65 years of age have Alzheimer’s Disease
  • One in three Americans over 85 years of age have Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States

Changes You Can Start Making Today to Support Brain Wellness as You Age

It’s natural to worry about losing your mental capacity. In fact, most Americans fear losing cognitive function more than they fear losing physical ability.

Luckily, there are changes you can make to help delay or prevent cognitive impairment and support your brain health as you age. It’s best practice to begin these lifestyle modifications as early in life as possible. But studies have shown that interventions even later in life can improve or maintain cognitive functioning in at-risk elderly people. This is especially important considering that there are very few pharmaceutical treatments for cognitive decline and dementia, and the ones that are available have limited efficacy. 

Lifestyle Modifications to Improve Your Brain Health

  • Mediterranean diet: The Mediterranean diet emphasizes vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, and limits intake of animal protein and saturated fats. High in nutrients and antioxidants, this diet may help protect against some of the damage to brain cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The diet has other benefits as well, including reducing inflammation, optimizing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Physical exercise: Increasing physical exercise to three or more times per week, or engaging in one hour per week of vigorous exercise like running, biking, or swimming, can help improve your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease dementia. 
  • Cognitive training: Also known as brain training, cognitive training is a natural intervention that involves following a program of mental activities to help maintain or increase cognitive functioning. Cognitive training can reduce the decline in reasoning and processing speed.    

Our Wellness Programs Can Help

If you are looking for even more ways to improve or maintain your brain health as you age, Hopkins Medical Group offers a number of wellness programs that are effective at treating your brain health.

  • BrainTap: As providers of BrainTap technology, we can help you shift your mind from a reactionary, stressed state to one of focus, clarity, and ease. Using light, sound, and guided imagery with a BrainTap headset (which you can use in the comfort of your own home), you can gently and naturally help reset your brainwaves to more beneficial patterns. The result is an intuitive, stress-free state in which healing of mind and body can occur. Listen along as the Hopkins Medical Group team is joined by BrainTap founder, Patrick Porter, in the latest edition of the Genius of Wellness podcast.
  • IV Therapy: Intravenous infusions (IVs) can boost overall health and assist the body’s ability to detoxify. This supports the health of our brain.  At Hopkins Medical Group we offer a variety of infusions from nutrient-rich Myers Cocktails high in vitamin B, C and magnesium as well as glutathione. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant essential for reducing oxidative stress in the brain. Our on-site infusion center offers a comfortable environment staffed by highly trained nurses to ensure you the best experience possible. 
  • Nutritional Consults: A growing amount of research concludes that dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are linked to poor diet. Keeping body weight down to reduce waist circumference may be a powerful tool in protecting brain health. Work with our Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Hopkins Medical Group to assess your current health, decipher which foods and habits can help your body and brain heal, and which foods and habits are causing you harm. Dr. Gad Marshall, at our March 9, 2021, Town Hall emphasized that the only proven therapy to reduce cognitive decline is diet and lifestyle.

Your lifestyle can have a profound impact on your brain health. Eating well, exercising often, and staying mentally active can help support a healthy brain as you age. And luckily, it’s never too late to start making changes that promote a healthy brain for years to come.